The Labor of Performance (Part One)

By gazing intently at the utter mundaneness of a person at work, the film denaturalizes their labor.
Douglas Gordon's Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2006) addresses itself solely to Zidane during a Spanish Liga Real Madrid versus Villareal CF game in April 2005 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. As Gordon tells it, a crew of 150 filmed Zidane in real time using 17 synchronized cameras, each camera equipped with its own operator, focus puller, loader, and runner. The crew for the live event, like Zidane himself, worked without a storyboard. Their only directive came from the Goya portraits Gordon arranged for them to study at the Prado. Zidane, notoriously private, delivers a testimony of his innermost thoughts in the subtitles. He doesn't "talk" vocally or give a talking-head monologue; the awkwardness of that genre staple is displaced on an elegantly fonted text track. A private life unfolds over a highly public moment. Something between public and private slips… Read More...

Against Nepenthe

The landlady brought news of your death
The landlady brought news of your death just as I was on the ledgers of a great discovery, on the edge of the New World’s old treasures. We would have been neighbors. Me: um pequeno ponto no mundo In the world without a world. You: the reluctant shepherd of false starts and lost stars. You: to grasp the reins of chromium horses through intergalactic charterbelts, To map the course of factory smoke in blue ink nephograms. Me: to undead the living, To grasp with the mind’s eye that last image of you in a doorway.   Read More...

Transcript on a Face

Wilson the innocent ghost, Brown the guilty demon
"Now these criminals are recognised even from their earliest days because they have extraordinary anomalies of the face and of the skull, asymmetry, macrocephaly, exaggeration of the length or breadth, strabismus, ears badly placed or too large, enormous jaws, bad conformation of the teeth, especially of the incisors, now too large, and again too far apart, nose flat and crooked, hair abundant on the forehead, an exaggerated development of the body (a child of seven having the stature and weight of one of nine), strength precocious, left-handedness more common, and above all great dulness of the senses. There is then a criminal type, so that your intuition leads you unconsciously to shrink from a person who has the face of a thief. I explain this fact scientifically..." —Cesare Lombroso, "Criminal Anthropology Applied to Pedagogy," The Monist, 1895, p. 57 "Do they know how… Read More...

Septuplus

Littera canina, Red alert of Rs retroflexed on tongues. Rhotic growl of propelled bullets, chirruped from a rocket.
Skulls and bones descend on host city Brisbane this week for the 2014 G20 Summit.  For those who weren't invited to attend, Bumf has published a special G20 issue. They asked me to contribute, and the result is Septuplus, a suite of poems comprised of "From the Land of the People Without Money," "Banquet," "Exhaling Birds," "Anthropogenesis," "Global Positioning System," "Oratory," and "Sine Die," with a frontispiece excerpt from Attar's The Conference of the Birds. Here's "Oratory": Read the entire issue here. Read More...

Interview in Ibraaz

The spirit of address is solidarity or speaking nearby and never for
Writer Mirene Arsanios did an interview with me for Ibraaz. Forensic Transgressions covers recent and upcoming work, from fictional epistolary in American Letters to literary translation in Waly Salomão's Algaravias: Echo Chamber to net art in Bio. We also discussed the provenance of this very space. Here's an excerpt: Mirene Arsanios: In 2009, in Rio de Janeiro, you started a blog called 'South/ South', which was transplanted to The New Inquiry in 2012. Can you briefly introduce 'South/ South' and what prompted it? Maryam Monalisa Gharavi: 'South/South' is a crossing point for several ideas. At its broadest it allows for an extended questioning and critique of the dominance of western universalism. There are many 'Souths', inclusive of – but not limited to – the nations of the Global South and the southern hemisphere, and the American South. Their autonomous cultures are undervalued. Their systems of knowledge are undervalued. Their connectedness to each other is undervalued. The spirit… Read More...

The Killing Class

To order spatial operations, to command bodies, to keep things moving along, to kill with impunity
"It cannot be neglected that the mythology of the democratic polity avidly recounts the heroic combat against the police agents of the old order. But even if the police officer of today did not evoke the images of the past at all, he would still be viewed with mixed feelings. For in modern folklore, too, he is a character who is ambivalently feared and admired, and no amount of public relations work can entirely abolish the sense that there is something of the dragon in the dragon slayer." (Egon Bittner, The Functions of the Police in Modern Society, 1970) Late last year I started a series called "The Thick Blue Line," based on documented, widespread, and ongoing police impunity in the United States. At the end of each month (here are the first, second, and third installments) I compiled national… Read More...

A Translation of Waly Salomão’s “Jet-Lagged Poem”

Is it day? Is it morning? Is it evening? Is it night? Sleeping? Awaking? Somnambulent?
My translation of Syrian-Brazilian poet Waly Saloma?o's "Jet-Lagged Poem" is in the new issue of Asymptote, which focuses on literature from Latin America. (Special thanks to editor Aditi Machado.) Asymptote, which is committed to the international encounter of language and literary translation, requested an audio recording of the poem being read in the original Portuguese, so one is included on the site. Here's an excerpt of "Jet-Lagged Poem": Large bird of an international route sucked by jet turbines. And bridge, rope, cable car, catacombs of the wine club, sorbets, sherry, scanners, hydrants, magasin d'images et de signes, seven types of ambiguity, all things lose the commas that separate them a wagon full of connectives explodes-implodes the gentian violet sky reflected in the needle of the glass skyscraper stations Bouqinistes megabookstores la folie du voir bistros cinemas cities whole countries engulfed in the storm drain. High cuisine and… Read More...

Wall of Names

The list of names grows before cartridge ink has dried on the page
As the massacre of Gaza reached its tenth day we began laying out the names of the dead, their ages, and the locations in which they were attacked. We consulted information registered by the Gaza Health Ministry (who risk their lives to make this record possible) and compiled by Al-Akhbar English and Al Jazeera English. We are trying to keep pace with the names as they are released, but the list grows before cartridge ink has dried on the page. The document we are using is available for public viewing, downloading, and printing. We are updating it as often as we can. (This is not an art installation.) —Maryam Monalisa Gharavi, Judith Kakon, and Cecilia López Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY Read More...

Canceled Message (Part Two)

Changing color in a dark, oceanic cave, like a private amphibian
Part One precedes this post.   ?     ?     ? Social Media as Corporate Cannibal "You won’t hear me laughing, as I terminate your day You can’t trace my footsteps, as I walk the other way" "I'll consume my consumers" —Grace Jones, "Corporate Cannibal" ?     ?     ? How to Almost Completely Disappear (on Twitter) Last March I spent some time in Iran, where my access to the internet was severely hampered. This limitation made me snappy and tense, possibly in the throes of some sort of vacant withdrawal that I didn't get over until eventually landing somewhere with airport wifi. In a connection-deprived space a lack of self-control can't be faulted as the culprit of this aimless malaise. One could blame the false promise of ubiquity. Going from a country with near-limitless access to one without is like… Read More...

Canceled Message (Part One)

Self-erasure, deletion, and effacement.
                    Self-erasure, deletion, and effacement. The least addressed ways of being on the internet are the subjects of my obsession. Not total withdrawal but a hiddenness in plain sight. It is not merely that such attributes are the opposites of self-promotion, aggrandizement, and re-insertion in the macro and micro economy of attention, but that they run antithetical to the active material of the internet itself—appearance and surfacing. And I admonish myself from reducing "the internet" to social media, but if I do it's owed to social media's interactive premise, not merely its assumed dominance or prevalence. "Sender" and "receiver"—again, dubious if such constraints can still be deployed in the age of the scroll—are assumed to be connected, even if asynchronously, but their connection is inadequately explained in terms of relations to text,… Read More...

The Inner Qualities of Darkness

To struggle with one’s blurred vision as you leave the comfort of a lit place for a sea-like unknown is both the great fear and the great imperative.
A letter by Joseph Conrad to English literary editor Edward Garnett. Their correspondence lasted 30 years. Any resemblance to real people is purely intentional.                                                                             February 24, 1898 My dear Garnett, Thanks for your letter, especially in absence of mine. We—Jessie, the Male Baby, and me—are spending our fifth day with the Cranes. Steve is in a buoyant mood, and Jessie and his missus go on and on about the babies in a frightful display. Only I remain dispossessed of myself. Thoughts turn to the Rescue at dinner, at tea, in every hopeless private moment too. I am horrible at vacations. O! better a full… Read More...

The Thick Blue Line

No charges against police officer. No charges against police officer. No charges against police officer.
Below is a February (including late January) edition of 'no charges against police officer' cases leading to injurious harm or fatality: the thick blue line of police impunity. (First post here. Second post here.) In the Blue Earth, Minnesota case, not even the accusation against police is revealed. The press record is cryptic on the matter: an incident occurred, there was an internal investigation, no charges were filed. Charges against police were filed in the case of the Fayetteville, Arkansas officer accused of rape and sexual assault. The King City, California corruption scheme has resulted in a class action lawsuit whose outcome is still pending. One of the two Fullerton, California police officers who got away with the beating death of Kelly Thomas were chased out of a Denny's. ?     ?     ? Toledo, OH | 'An internal police investigation report prompted by… Read More...

they built for eternity

Yesteryear's avowed goodness of firms with "special" relationships to Anglo-America parallels with today's avowed goodness of institutions with "special" relationships to art
The Gulf Labor Working Group is a coalition of international artists, writers, and activists who since 2011 have brought focus to the "coercive recruitment and deplorable living and working conditions of migrant laborers in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island (Island of Happiness)," particularly on the workers building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum/British Museum. Their campaign, called "52 Weeks," is a one-year effort whereby contributors deliver a work, text, or action each week, taking as their starting point the exploitation of workers building Abu Dhabi's premier cultural institutions. I was asked to produce a work (in PDF) for Week 21 of "52 Weeks," and contributed this painting. Previously I wrote a book chapter, "'Everything You Can Imagine is Real': Labor, Hype, and the Specter of Progress in Dubai,"†  on real estate development, labor recruitment practices, and my… Read More...